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Medical conference to bring in more than $1 million to local economy

(WDBJ)
Published: Jun. 10, 2019 at 3:35 AM EDT
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On Monday, people from all over the world will be in Roanoke to learn how to improve global healthcare for the International Association of Medical Science Educators conference.

"[We'll] focus on medical education, the latest trends, the latest issues and challenges facing health educators around the globe," Dr.

Rick Vari, the senior dean for academic affairs at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, said. "It's an association of over 1,500 members, and we're having about 650-plus of our members come from all over the world."

In fact, 28 different countries will be represented at the conference. Since this is the first time Roanoke has been the host city, VTCSOM is rolling out the red carpet.

"With the new medical school, with the new opportunities, the new breweries that are around, it was just an exciting thing to partner with tourism to try and showcase Roanoke to the world," Vari said.

A partnership that Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge is thrilled to be a part of.

"So many people think of Roanoke as the lost colony or they think of it as the train city," Landon Howard, the president of Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge, said. "But really, we've gone from train city to brain city."

With the growth of the medical center, healthcare is a big employer here.

"They've been so instrumental in changing the image of our community," Howard said. "Just what they're bringing to our community is incredible."

One of the things the school of medicine is bringing in is money and this conference has the potential to really boost Roanoke's economy.

"This is without question one of the largest conferences we have hosted," Howard explained. "It's worth about $1.2 million to our community just in terms of spending and taxes that will be collected."

During the four-day conference, delegates at the conference will get to see both the work and the play sides of Southwest Virginia.

"We're doing a "taste of Virginia's Blue Ridge" right in the heart of downtown Roanoke," Howard said. "They'll be able to sample the beer, the food, and all the different types of amenities that we have in downtown Roanoke."

When asked what he hopes these visitors think and feel when they leave Roanoke at the end of the week, Vari said, "That we are really really an exciting place to be. That we are a focal point of healthcare in a region with Carilion and now with the medical school. And that it really is a nice little place to visit."

The conference will be held at Hotel Roanoke. While they're here, the delegates will visit Peaks of Otter, Ballast Point, and other great local spots.

There will also be a street fair Monday night in downtown Roanoke with food trucks, music, and local vendors from 6-8 p.m. This event is closed to the public so anyone headed downtown needs to pay attention to road closures and parking limitations.